White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer got into an impressive muddle during a press briefing on Tuesday (11 April) when he said that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons.
Asked about the relationship between Russia and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, who is accused of using sarin gas in an attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun last week, Spicer said: "We didn't use chemical weapons in World War Two - you had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to the - to using chemical weapons."
Millions of people were gassed in death camps using the chemical agent Zyklon B by the Nazi regime during the Second World War.
Later when a White House reporter gave him an opportunity to clarify his statement, Spicer said Hitler "was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing ... he brought them into the Holocaust centre and I understand that, what I'm saying is in the way that Assad used them where he went into towns, dropped them down into the middle of towns."
Spicer was answering a question about Russia's alliance with Assad as the administration steps up demands that Russia chose whether to side with Assad and Iran or the US and its allies.
A history of chemical weapons: From the Ancient Greeks to Assad's Syria
Spicer was quickly mocked on Twitter for the mistaken remarks. The daughter Hillary Clinton, President Donald Trump's rival in last year's presidential election, Chelsea Clinton said that she hopes Spicer "takes time to visit @HolocaustMuseum. It's a few blocks away."
In a statement after the briefing, Spicer said: "In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust, however, I was trying to draw a contrast of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on innocent people." That statement was then revised to say "population centres", instead of "innocent people".
You may be interested in:
- Democrat leader says Trump should label China a currency manipulator
- Rex Tillerson says Russia must choose between Assad, Hezbollah and Iran or the US and its allies
- Explosion hits Borussia Dortmund team bus ahead of Champions League tie, Marc Bartra hospitalised
- Sean Spicer says Hitler did not use chemical weapons